Ballyclare players bonding as new season kicks off

Ballyclare Comrades manager Stephen Small has said he is pleased with how his squad is bonding as the new Lough 41 NIFL Championship season kicked off at the weekend.

The south Antrim side commenced their campaign with a 0-0 draw with Ballinamallard at Dixon Park on Saturday (August 13).

Speaking to the club’s media officer Zoe Tisdale after the tie, Small said: “I think it was a very close affair. I think we started a little bit nervy for the first 15 minutes. After that I think we grew into the game. I thought we were solid. I thought we were creative. Our defence did well after the first 15 minutes and we were pleased how we grew into the game. A draw was probably a fair result.”

Commenting on the club’s new signings, Small added: “I think we’re still in the process of getting to know each other. It’s not going to happen overnight. We still see relationships building on the pitch and off the pitch the guys are bonding pretty well. It’s going to take time, but I’m delighted with the progress, even within a game. Week-on-week it’s a work in progress with so many new players.

The Comrades team line up before the match with Ballinamallard FC. Picture: Paul Harvey.

“I want honest, hard working and passionate players. I want to win games and if we’re not winning the game, I want to go and try and win the game.

“We’ve good attacking options now, so we’re hopeful those attacking options can mean we can change a game or add to our attacking options late in the game.”

Addressing the club’s supporters, the former Carrick Rangers manager stated: “I want them to come to a game knowing that they are going to see a team that plays with passion and the work rate is high and they are going to go and try and win football games. If we can get them behind us, and the more the merrier, I think the group of players we have here will galvanise them and get them out of their seats.”

Next up for Ballyclare is an away trip to Castlederg to take on Dergview at Darragh Park on Saturday, August 20 (3pm).

Commenting ahead of the clash. Small explained: “It’s a tough gig going to the likes of Ballinamallard and Dergview and they have improved their squads. Dergview will be tough.

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“I know they had a rough first day today, which is all the more pleasing, because first days can throw up strange results, and Dergview had a strange result against Newington, who obviously are on the crest of a wave. We’ll face a wounded animal, so to speak, in Dergview.”